FREEDOM AND BLUE LAWS
The dark-day divines would take the sun out of Sunday.
Intolerant people forfeit their right to be tolerated.
The old Puritan came to America in order to worship God according to the dictates of conscience-and force everybody else to do the same.
The Puritan believed in the liberty to be a Puritan, but not in the liberty to be anything else.
The present day Puritan goes on the theory that people need to be saved from themselves and everything else.
To have perfect freedom of action the individual must have an environment unfashioned by the Blue Law Breed.
At every session of Congress the capitol of the Nation is overrun by an army of Blue
Law advocates, vociferously demanding the enactment of laws to close practically every form of amusement and recreation on Sundays.
Among the organizations promoting this theoretic legislation are the National Reform Association, the Sabbath Observance League, the Sabbath Alliance, the International Reform Association, and the Lord’s Day Alliance. These organizations have declared their intention to have SundayClosing Laws put on the statute books of every state in the Union, and in many states the legislators either have enacted such laws or are considering their enactment. Already many arrests and convictions for violations of Sunday Blue Laws have occurred.
Some of these organizations, however, are not going to stop with merely closing some amusements on Sunday, but intend to go the full length of the Puritan program and prohibit amusements on any day.
Some members of these organizations have threatened members of congressional committees with political defeat if they refuse to act favorably on pending Sunday bills, according to the statement of Chairman Focht of the House of Representatives District Committee.
Arthur Sears Henning, a Washington newspaper correspondent, writes as follows of the activity of the Blue Law lobbyists:
“Now they are beseeching Congress to pass a Sunday law which virtually will close up every place of public entertainment in the District of Columbia on Sundays, so the church pews may be filled. They are, in reality, asking the civil government to enforce church discipline upon their members as well as upon non-churchgoers.”
Three Sunday bills have been introduced, one in the Senate and two in the House of Representatives. Two fathered by Senator Myers (Dem., Mont.) and Representative Zihlman (Rep., Md.) provide for one day of rest in seven for employes in certain employments, preferably Sunday. The third, presented by Representative Fitzgerald (Rep., Ohio) forbids any person to labor or employ others to labor on Sunday, except on works of necessity or charity, to keep open any theatre, moving picture house, dance hall, place of public assembly, or amusement for secular purposes, or “to engage in unlawful sports on the Lord’s day, commonly called Sunday.”
“Unlawful sports,” it is explained by advocates of the bill, would be any games for which an admission fee is charged.
The bill makes no exemptions in favor of those observing any day other than Sunday, and provides for penalties of from $5 to $500 fines, or imprisonment of from one to six months, or both.
The Fitzgerald bill, the most drastic of the three, is indorsed by the National Reform Association, the Lord’s Day Alliance, the Pastors’ Federation of the District of Columbia, the Y. M. C. A., and the Board of Temperance, Prohibition and Public Morals of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Dancers, smokers, confectioners, theater managers, etc., have been arrested and convicted under Sunday laws already enacted, but the persecution has not stopped with pleasure seekers. It has included Jews and Adventists as well, for living up to their religion by worshiping on Saturday and working on Sunday.
C. S. Longacre, general international secretary of the Seventh Day Adventists, makes report of the following convictions:
“Mr. T. B. Michael, of Charlotte, N. C., was arrested and fined for taking pictures on Sunday in Lowell, N. C. He has appealed his case.
“Three Seventh Day Adventists of South Lancaster, Mass., were painting the interior of a storeroom on Sunday in Clinton, Mass., and were arrested for disturbing the public peace, and tried before the lower court and fined. All three appealed their cases to the Superior Court of Massachusetts.
“Mr. W. D. Taylor, contractor and builder, Lakeland, Fla., was arrested and fined for working on Sunday. He refused to pay the fine and was cast into jail, but later the court suspended the sentence and released the prisoner.
“Mr. Paul Swinson, Goldsboro, N. C., was arrested and fined for operating a gasoline filling station on Sunday. He has appealed his case to the Superior Court of North Carolina.”
“Unless the present-day tendency toward religious and paternalistic legislation is checked,” says Mr. Longacre, “it will not be long until a complete union of church and state will be perfected in America such as held sway in the third and fourth centuries of the Roman empire, when the church hierarchy of that day captured the civil government and dominated the state.
“It is high time that every lover of civil and religious liberty raised his voice in protest against these encroachments upon human rights and defended the correct ideals of true Americanism, as conceived by the fathers of the American republic.”
The Jewish Sabbath Alliance of America in a recent statement declared any attempt to put into effect Sunday Blue Laws would be a direct violation of the constitutional guaranty of religious freedom.
“What these opponents of the seventh day call the American Sabbath,” the statement said, “is nothing more than a subterfuge. There is no American Sabbath, as well as there is no English, German, or Dutch Sabbath. There is no reason in existence which permits any body of legislators to decide in this theological question that one party is totally right and the other wrong.
“Even at the present time the existing laws on statute books of the State of New York are the grossest injustice to a large portion of the citizenry of this country, and the alliance will make every effort to amend same to allow the seventh day observing American citizens equal rights as are given another portion of the citizenry.”
It is evident that the Blue Law coterie would make the Constitution “a mere scrap of paper.” The avowed purpose of the National Reform Association is to insert the religious expression “God” in our Constitution, and to compel the enactment of both state and national Sunday laws.
The government of the United States is secular, not ecclesiastical. This was stated many times by our forefathers who established it.
What is a secular government?
It is one without an established church, or one which in any way is connected with the church.
A secular government will uphold an untrammeled search for truth, by defending an investigator from being intimidated by threat or penalty, legal, spiritual or social.
The founders of this republic established secular schools. A secular education is a system of training from which sectarian teaching is excluded.
A secular government encourages a secular attitude on the part of its citizens. Thus the citizen may be religious or not, as he chooses. Any other attitude is unjust, intolerant, and unendurable by a liberty loving people.
The secular attitude of the citizen confines itself to the things of this world; it concerns itself with temporal matters as distinguished from eternal or spiritual matters. To be secular is to confine one’s attitude to things of this life, not connected with religious or ecclesiastical things.
The secular character of the Constitution does not please the Blue Law fanatics, who are attacking it from every angle and yet pretend to be loyal citizens.
The enactment of Sunday laws is a stride towards a union of church and state and a direct violation of the Constitution, and the enforcing of their observance is an abridgment of the fundamental liberties of the individual as set forth in the Bill of Rights. Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, and Grant all declared against religious laws and a union of church and state.
The fathers of this Republic, who had to deal with many kinds of people and with many varieties of religious beliefs, realized the necessity of providing for the free exercise of various faiths. They saw there was just one way to insure this, and that was to give them equal freedom, no more, no less. This proved highly successful and quieted the warring sects in this country.
But this equal liberty does not suit some of the present day Puritans; they want special privileges. They want a government that will advance their particular interests; they are not satisfied with our fathers’ act of separating the church and the state. They want the state to go into the church business with them-and let them run the business. This was done in early days here, and those who know its history want no more of it. The Quakers want none of it; and the Libertarians are not going to permit any more of it.
The attitude of the founders of this Republic towards religions beliefs was that all creeds are to be tolerated, but none is to be favored. This attitude applies alike to Catholic, Jew, Protestant, Pagan, or Atheist. It does not matter whether one believes in one God, many gods, or none; he has equal rights under this secular government.
A truly secular government will not permit itself to dabble in sectarian matters. It is not supposed to know anything about such matters. Its business is of this world and this country, and any interference other than to keep the peace between disputing sects is to go outside of its proper function.
A secular government will have all that it can do well when it protects people and property and maintains the equality of rights and the liberties of its citizens, without meddling in matters that have to do with the next world. The same is true of religious leaders: if they would attend to their own business and leave the state’s business alone they would do much toward promoting peace on earth and good will to men.
A Blue Sunday is not to be laid at the door of all Christians. Many of the greatest leaders-both ancient and modern, both Catholic and Protestant were opposed to
compelling others to observe Sunday as more than other days.
Jesus Himself was reputed to be a “Sabbath-breaker,” and on that subject He said: “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.”
St. Paul was equally fine on that point. He said: “One man esteemeth one day above another. Another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully pursuaded in his own mind.” That is the real Libertarian attitude toward others’ views well stated.
The eminent Protestant leader Luther had this to say about Sunday observance: “As regards the Sabbath, or Sunday, there is no necessity for keeping it.”
Cardinal Gibbons, one of the greatest men in the Catholic Church, gave this as his opinion on that subject: “Read the Bible from Genesis to Revelations and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday as a Sabbath.”
Let the “do-nothings” read this from that distinguished leader, Justin Martyr: “You, because you are idle for one day, suppose you are pious. Our God is not pleased with such observances. You see the heavens are not idle, nor do they observe the Sabbath.”
That distinguished Catholic scholar, Erasmus, was so much in favor of freedom in religious matters that he removed to Freiburg, “a city that was free from religious dissensions.” He had this to say on the Sabbath question: “It is meet, therefore, that the keeping of the Sabbath day give place to the community and profit of man.” And this was the attitude of the distinguished Protestant leader Melanchthon, who said: “The observance neither of the Sabbath nor of any other day is necessary.”
Bishop Warburton has expressed similar thoughts. He says: “The observance of Sabbath is no more a natural duty than circumcision.”
Numerous other devout Christian scholars could be cited to the same effect, but enough have been quoted to show that the Blue Lawites are not even in harmony with many of their greatest leaders. They seem to hate the laws of nature which they believe their God enacted. These laws are not suspended on Sunday. Nature knows no holy space of time. The brook flows on with its murmur on that day as on other days. The trees grow and bloom as beautifully on Sunday as on Monday, and the birds sing as sweetly in those trees on Sunday as they do in midweek. The flowers bloom and shed their fragrance unmindful of the day.
The sun comes up and shines on the just as well as on the Blue Law crew, but the latter are not pleased-for they dislike anything that makes people happy. They believe that seeing a moving picture that makes one feel like a saint on a week day will make one feel like a sinner if seen on Sunday. An effort should be made to reform these Blue Sunday people so they would be as good on the six secular days as other people are.
It is a false doctrine to teach that conduct is good or bad during a certain revolution of our planet during the week. Conduct is good or bad regardless of days. To do right is good, and on any day, and to do bad is wrong on any day, so what has the day to do with it?
A day cannot be injured; it is human beings who are hurt. There is no intrinsic difference between days, and to legislate into them a difference for the benefit of a class is unjust and un-American.
Religious legislation of any kind means a union of church and state to just that extent, and it is the legal source of religious persecution.
It was a union of church and state that produced the inquisition of the middle ages, and it could and would produce one today if that union were as close as it was in the past. The church is quite willing for the state to shoulder the discredit for those awful persecutions of the past, but history places the cause of them on the church. Victor Hugo places the number of deaths by the Inquisition at 5,000,000. Without the state to carry out her wish the church could not have established the Inquisition or used it. It was of no benefit to the state, and it would not have committed those crimes if it had not been compelled to do so by fanatics, just as today officials are coerced by the same sort of intolerant meddlers in the matter of the Blue Law legislation. If the church doesn’t want the odium for this unlawful campaign, then let it clear its skirts by declaring it does not endorse or uphold these meddlesome Matties in its ranks. If it doesn’t do so, it will be given the credit for inspiring these members of its organization.
The alarming phase of the Blue Laws is that the state is behind them to force them on all, regardless of consequences; and history reveals the result of such action. If people would impose Blue Laws on themselves only, no complaint could or would be made. But those unfeeling fanatics are not contented with the freedom to live their lives in their own way; they must compel others to follow their narrow path through life.
Our fathers fought for religious liberty, and believed they had established it permanently by writing it into our Constitution; but when this liberty is attacked, then we are unworthy of our sires if we do not defend it like men.
Does the church realize what may happen to it if these Puritans in its ranks continue to impose their despotic ideas on people who believe in freedom? Some cases in point have happened in recent years; and more than one country did not stop at mere disestablishment of the church for its meddling in secular matters, but outlawed it altogether.
It does seem that the church might be contented with the many advantages it enjoys in this land, and in return for those privileges be the first to uphold the religious freedom our fathers gave their lives to establish.
The intolerant attackers of Constitutional rights possess tremendous prestige in that they are well organized and richly financed, and have numerous organizations working toward the same end; but their opponents also can organize, and if they do who may foretell the results when the people become fully informed and thoroughly aroused? For so many persons in the church do not believe in religious liberty that it leads one to suspect there also may be many outside the church who do not believe in it, and that in fighting each other these two groups may destroy religious liberty altogether. Not all persons are content to make a defensive fight only, but when victory is won go on to aggressive grounds and follow up their victory by conquest.
Libertarians will be satisfied with the reestablishment of liberty, but all opponents of Blue Laws are not Libertarians and may not stop with a merely defensive victory; so take heed, ye intolerant ones, lest those on the other side imitate you!
Libertarians do not purpose to deal with the present day Puritans as the oldtime Puritans dealt with their opponents. We will not put them in the stocks, we will not whip them on naked backs through the streets; all we will do to them is to deal them the naked truth about themselves and compel them to stay within the law of equal liberty and exact justice. That will be a terrible blow to them, we know; but our own freedom and the welfare of the whole country depend upon it. To make them to conform to the law and leave other people alone means putting them out of business, for their business is meddling with other people’s affairs and breaking the Constitutional law of religious freedom.
The Sunday Blue Laws are being urged by the same class of men who burned heretics at the stake in the past. It is plain to anyone who can think that their object is to drive people to church by preventing them from going anywhere else. A clergyman that is worth hearing can compete with other attractions on Sunday; the other sort should not have a law to compel people to listen to them.
In February, 1918, the New York Sabbath Committee compelled a postponement of the parade of the 308th Infantry from Sunday to Monday. The New York “Globe” said on that occasion:
“As a result of the Sabbath Committee’s protest the 308th Regiment was compelled, upon detraining, to proceed softly and without music to the Seventy-first Regiment Armory. In order not to deprive New Yorkers of the opportunity of seeing for the first time into what manner of soldiers Uncle Sam has developed their boys, the regiment, at great inconvenience, was held over in the city last night to march through the streets today.”
The New York “Call,” in the following graphic account, describes the manner in which the Sunday-closing law works in America’s great metropolis:
“The case of Mrs. Dora Krause, of Freeman street, the Bronx, illustrates the workings of one of our fool Sunday laws. She runs a grocery store, and the other Sunday a detective entered after 10 o’clock and for 11 cents purchased a bottle of ketchup. For this hideous crime against the sanctity of the Sabbath the detective summoned her to court. She failed to respond to the summons, and when another was issued and she did not respond the detective was sent around to arrest her. Magistrate Krotel was shocked at her conduct, and in telling the detective to make the arrest denounced the woman for again desecrating the Sabbath and belittling the majesty of the court. When she was arrested the session of the court had ended and she was consequently locked up over night. The next morning she was dragged to court and fined $5.
“Thus was the law vindicated and a hardened offender punished. It had taken four days of splendid detective work to get that $5 fine out of her. First a detective who received $2,250 a year obtained the evidence of crime. Then he went to court, had a summons made out, and served it. Then he went to court again, got another summons, and made the arrest. Then he went to court once more, this time with the hardened prisoner in hand, and had her fined $5. He may have done other work in between whiles, but it is not probable, as all his sleuthing ability would have to be concentrated on this case. He gets in pay about $6 a day. So he put in $24 worth of work.
“The contribution of Magistrate Krotel, who receives $7,000 a year, must likewise be reckoned in, as well as the time of the court attendants and station-house guards.
“We are not overstating when we say at least $50 worth of big brain work was put in on this case. And what had the woman done? She had sold an Ll-cent bottle of ketchup after 10 o’clock on a Sunday morning.”
At Tangier, Va., the Town Council passed an ordinance ordering all persons to go to church on Sunday or stay in homes during church hours. The result was the shooting
of a boy for not attending church. The Cincinnati Post said:
“Tangier has been ablaze with fire of discord since Charles (Bud) Connorton, town constable, shot Roland Parker, 17, for sitting on the porch of his brother’s store during church hours on Sunday.
“The mayor of Tangier is Garey Crockett and is a preacher. When interviewed by the Post’s correspondent about the shooting and the enforcement of the Blue Law, he said: ‘It’s necessary to be firm with the “bad” ones who ‘don’t go to church! Right smart young people are coming to church since we passed the law.’ ”
The office-holding preacher revealed the real purpose of the Blue Law advocates in his statement. What they really want is a monopoly on one day for their business, and they do not hesitate to justify the shooting of boys to obtain it.
Dispatches of April 13, 1923, from Springfield, Ills., state that “A Lord’s Day Alliance move to establish drastic Blue Laws banning Sunday baseball, theaters, dance halls and picnics where admission charges are made in Illinois, including Chicago, began in the legislature here today.”
Omaha on April 14, 1923, passed an ordinance prohibiting the delivery of ice in Omaha on Sundays under penalty of fine. This would prevent the delivery of ice cream. One can’t even keep cool on Sunday.
A Sunday Blue Law known as the Tinner bill, which adds to the present restrictions on Sunday liberty that of forbidding the sale of supplies to automobilists traveling on the “Lord’s day,” has been introduced into the Texas Legislature. Let the patient die; the doctor must not use his automobile to visit him. Let the wounded perish; the ambulance nowadays uses gasoline and needs other supplies and repairs. Old Blue Intolerance will build his church near enough so you can walk to it; you need no auto on Sunday. It is all right for the church janitor to work keeping up heat and pumping air into the organ, and the paid choir to sing on Sunday. The preacher may also work and earn his salary; but no one else.
The hope of Libertarians lies in the people’s love for personal freedom. That this hope is well founded has been conclusively shown in Oregon. A law for Sunday closing was submitted to the people and was defeated by a vote of 125,336 against 93,525.
Sunday Blue Law committees may go before pliant legislators and force through an unconstitutional religious law, but when it is submitted to the people with time for its consideration, it meets the defeat it merits. The people of each state should take care of those yellow legislators that are controlled by the Blues. Senator Borah of Idaho presented a bill in Congress to take care of this gentry throughout the United States. This bill provides for “the immediate removal from office of any United States official unlawfully interfering with the civil rights of the individual.” The bill further provides fines of $5,000 and $10,000 for state or local officers who interfere with any attempt of any individual to exercise his right, privilege, or immunity to “propose, discuss, advance, agitate for, or promote by lawful means any federal statute or any amendment of a federal
statute or any amendment of the federal Constitution.”
Also, a ten thousand dollar fine and a five year sentence are provided for any state or local official seizing books or private papers without a warrant and for any federal official who “injures, oppresses, threatens, or intimidates any person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured or guaranteed to him by the Constitution.”
That section of the Borah bill which makes it a criminal offense for federal officers to make seizures or searches without warrants is needed, for the acts it forbids have been committed repeatedly by federal and state officials.
The pretence that prohibiting the Sunday newspaper would give the newspaper workers Sunday as a day of rest is deceitful. The Sunday newspaper is produced almost entirely on Saturday, and if the “dear workingmen” are to be saved from that obnoxious work it will necessitate their having Saturday instead of Sunday as a day of rest. The work they do on Sunday produces the Monday newspaper containing the Sunday sermons of the Blue preachers. Have you noticed any complaint from that source on that account?
The newspaper owners and the union men have arranged relays for the employees so they have one day a week for recreation. Every day of the week is a rest day for some.
But if the Blue Sundayites are permitted to have their way the worker whose rest day falls on Sunday will be unfortunate indeed, for he would much prefer to have it fall on a day in which he could be free to enjoy himself.
The Sunday-produced paper is read on Monday and does not interfere with church business but really promotes it by publishing Sunday sermons, while the Saturdayproduced paper is read on Sunday and does interfere with the business of the church by competing for customers. It is not the few thousand workingmen that labor on Sunday that concern the Blue Sundayites, but the millions that remain at home to read the Sunday paper that the “poor workingman” produced on Saturday.
These Constitution-smashers show a great interest in workingmen on Sunday; if they did something occasionally on week days for them the laboring men might have a little more confidence in them.
Sunday Blue Laws are enacted by fanatics and then enforced by civil authority. After this enactment, if there is any revolt against these unjust laws, the cry is raised that all good people must bow to them because now they are the law.
To abolish a Blue Law is not to cancel a religious right, any more than abolition of chattel slavery canceled a human right. To free the people so that they may enjoy shows and outdoor sports will violate no just or constitutional religious right. Blue Laws are a survival of the days of slavery and witchcraft, and some day we shall be as much ashamed of them as we now are of those blighting institutions.
Any rule of conduct forced upon a promiscuous mass of individuals will be injurious to many, notwithstanding the fact that the rule may be good for some of the people. The attempt to direct people in personal matters tends to destroy their self-reliance, and only hurtful consequences can result.